While ticket prices for theater in other parts of the city still stubbornly high, New Yorkers looking for good theater at an accessible price may be glad to learn that some of the best artistic work in the city is being done in places they didn’t know they had access to. For residents of Greenpoint, this is especially true of River Watchers, a stirring new immersive theatrical experience. Hustled from a meeting place outside Greenpoint Beer & Ale (1150 Manhattan Avenue), audience members are enlisted to paddle along and lend their voices to an intimate journey along Newtown Creek.
Conceived by director Dina Vovsi and created by Vovsi, playwright Dan Caffrey, and performer/consultant Jens Rasmussen, River Watchers expertly spirits its dozen or so theatergoers along the waters separating Brooklyn and Queens, and into a future marred by ecological disaster. Two lively guides, embodied by the excellent Amanda Bruton and an aching Rasmussen, deftly sketch this “near future” for their guests onboard the 14-seat canoe, and mix in some surprising local history about local cleanup efforts, and landmarks like the Pulaski and
the Wastewater Treatment Plant, along the way.
Braving what the New York Post dubs the city’s “most disgusting creek,” the River Watchers team have successfully crafted an engaging and emotional hour for any soul brave enough to strap on a lifejacket and clamber down the ladder alongside their fellow New Yorkers. Using simple tools like flashlights, voices, and a canoe on loan from the North Brooklyn Community Boathouse, Vovsi, Caffrey, and Rasmussen have created a one-of-a-kind night of theater that embraces the size of our city’s history and humanity’s place in it. At River Watchers, Brooklyn
audiences are treated to the quiet beauty of New York’s hidden corners in ways they may never get the chance to see again.
River Watchers is presented in association with The Motor Company, a Queens-based organization which presents free “theater for all New Yorkers” in unlikely settings around the city. Its founder and artistic director, Lillian Meredith, says to Greenpointers that the appeal of the project for her was in the way that Vovsi and her collaborators pushed her out of her comfort zone. “I got to do this thing that I would never have done voluntarily. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It made me want to join the Boathouse.”
River Watchers resumes performances on Thursday, October 26, and closes on Sunday, October 29. Learn more about the project and reserve a spot on the waitlist here.